Recent Grads, Current Star Continue Successful Soccer Careers During Summer
Five graduates of Berry College who recently wore the navy and silver for the Vikings soccer team, as well as current midfielder Josh Hughes, are having solid summer experiences on the pitch.
Mark Bloom (2010c) has had an exciting summer in his third year of professional soccer, helping his team reach the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup. He plays for the Charlotte Eagles of the USL Pro league, and while they are having a solid season in the league, it is the Cup run which has been memorable. The Eagles notched a road victory over Major League Soccer's FC Dallas in the early rounds, then defeated San Antonio in the next round. Charlotte will now face MLS side LA Chivas in the quarterfinals in the Home Depot center on June 26th.
"I'm excited to try and prove myself to the Chivas coach once more after a two week trial with Chivas this off season," Bloom said. "This run in the US Open Cup has been the highlight of my summer so far. The opportunity to compete against MLS players is very exciting. Our run has also earned us a lot of respect around the USL Pro League as well as the NASL, and with a win over Chivas, we can turn a lot of heads of MLS teams, as well."
Shane Moroney (2011c) has enjoyed his second season playing professional soccer with the Atlanta Silverbacks in the North American Soccer league (NASL). The results have not been great, but Shane has been a regular and playing a more advanced midfield role this year, which has allowed him to score three goals and record a pair of assists.
Shane also had the chance to play against MLS competition in the US Open Cup, when the Silverbacks travelled to face the Seattle Sounders. Atlanta lost the game, but Shane was excited to get an assist that night.
"Playing against the MLS players was pretty cool," Moroney said. "Athletically there is not that big of a difference, but the accuracy in the passing and shooting is at a very high level. Also their creativity and their decision making has helped me gain a lot of experience these past two years."
"My best memory was scoring the game winning goal against Edmonton," a goal that won NASL play of the week.
Justin Smith (2012c) plays for the FC Jacksonville Destroyers, A PDL team from Florida . He has been playing left midfield and sharing minutes with other midfielders.
His favorite memory this summer was playing against the US National Team.
"Our coach only let us know about the friendly three days before and told us we would be playing a friendly against a group of 'waiters'," Smith said. "We played the US team in a closed environment; no media or public was allowed. It was amazing walking to the field to warm up and just on the other side are some of the biggest names. Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra and Michael Bradley were the big names there that day.
"For the second half, most of the starters sat the bench and let some of the newer players get in. I started the second half against a player named Kyle Beckerman. He was very busy and I spent most of the half chasing him down, seeing as they had about 80 percent possession! They played well together. Their touches were on and their passes were simple; when they did hit long ball, it was accurate and brought down sublimely.
"More than anything though, this opened my eyes to how high the professional level is, not just in the US, but for all the teams around the world that are at a higher level."
Josh Hughes (2014c) is playing in Canada with Forest City London, based in London, Ontario. The team features players representing several different nations, such as Great Britain (8 or 9 players), New Zealand, Canada, Brazil, Portugal, and the United States (Josh is one of only 2 Americans on the team). He has been playing, and mostly starting, at the outside back position, with brief stints in the center midfield area as well.
His best memory from the year thus far comes out of the Michigan Bucks game, when their right winger blew down the sideline. Josh made a recovery run behind his goalkeeper just in time to save the shot that had beat the goalkeeper, sliding and knocking the ball literally off the goal line.
"When players show that they can put it more than 100% for their team, it sends a message," Hughes said. "On the field, which we are on at least six days a week, training is intense. In terms of getting to be a better soccer player, there isn't much else I could have asked for. To play often and at a high level, and to be getting a good deal of playing time, things have been going well in London."
Mike Davis (2011c) and Daniel Wartner (2012c) are enjoying their time playing for the Quad City (Ill.) Eagles of the NPSL. Davis has been starting at central defense and Wartner has been seeing time at wide midfield. Daniels best memory so far was scoring his first goal of the season just two minutes after he came off the bench.
Jan Weeg (2011c) has been playing PDL soccer with the Schulz Academy in South Florida. Jan is having a great time, playing 90 minutes every game as left back.
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